“The Wandering Train”

This week’s piece of weird fiction from LibraryThing’s Deep Ones discussion.

Review: “The Wandering Train”, Stefan Grabinski, trans. Miroslaw Lipinski, 1919. 

In some ways, this is a simple story. It doesn’t even have any real characters except the titular train.

The story opens at the Horsk train station just before the holidays. We get a description of the passengers and the railroad employees going about their work.

Yet, we’re told the careful observer would note something is wrong:

One could deduce this from the nervous, exaggerated gestures of the railwaymen and their restless glances and anticipating faces. Something had broken down in the previously exemplary system. Some unhealthy, terrible current circulated along its hundredfold-branched arteries, and it permeated to the surface in half-conscious flashes.

There is something new, some unexpected element in a domain where

everything had been calculated, weighed, measured – everything, though complex, had not passed human understanding.

It seems the railwaymen worry about an accident. A train of unknown origin and certainly not accounted for in the schedule has been seen at various points in the system. Each time, it’s been closer to the regular trains. Is an accident inevitable?

Continue reading

“The White Wyrak”

It was my idea to discuss this piece of weird fiction over at LibraryThing, and I’m glad I did.

Review: “The White Wyrak”, Stefan Grabiński, trans. Miroslaw Lipinski, 1921.The Weird

Our narrator genially recounts his early days as a journeyman in the chimney sweeping trade to some young men starting the same career.

He worked under Master Kalina, and his fellow journeymen included Antarek, gloomy and silent, but always seeming to grasp the philosophic truth in the many tales Kalina tells his employees.

When Antarek doesn’t show up one night after a job, Kalina goes looking for him at the brewery where he was sent to clean a chimney. The brewery stopped operating years ago. Eventually the property was picked up cheap by a family. They don’t know what happened to Antarek but complain the chimney is still smoking.

Another apprentice is sent out, and he doesn’t come back either. Kalina, whom the narrator says was a wise man, seems to know what’s up. He takes the narrator with him when they go to the brewery. Continue reading